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Swift column: Allure of March Madness eludes sports-phobic

By Tammy Swift


When you grew up in a female-centric household in the 1970s, you expected certain things.

Like the fact you would never back out of the driveway without someone yelling "Did you turn off my Farrah Fawcett hot rollers?" Or that at least one screaming, clawing catfight would result in your precious Andy Gibb poster being ripped in two.

Or that you would grow up thinking March Madness is a white sale.

It's true. My sisters and I had little knowledge of or enthusiasm in sports. Oh sure, I spent a whole summer wanting to be Chris Evert Lloyd, but only because I wanted long, golden hair and tanned legs that looked great in a tennis skirt.

I believe part of our sports apathy came from my dad, who was too busy farming to care about sports. It's a good thing, too. With all those females monopolizing the TV, he rarely got to watch anything that didn't star Robby Benson.

In a lame stab at patriotism, our family would occasionally drag ourselves outside to play a particularly pathetic and joyless game of softball or kickball. More often than not, I would feign sunstroke so I could bow out early. In fourth grade, I actually told my camp counselor that I had "tangenital heart problems" so that I could be excused from the kickball tournaments.

The situation didn't improve as I grew older. In 1978, I ran the slowest 50-yard dash in Glen Ullin Public School's history, which made it especially painful to possess the last name of "Swift."

This sports-phobia has followed me throughout my adult life. I can scarcely participate in a light-hearted game of badminton without fearing an unintended shuttlecock incident will send me into a shame spiral. I think a "technical foul" is a detail-oriented chicken and a "Check off" is a playwright.

I have nothing to contribute when those around me talk sports. Instead, I've resorted to nodding my head and randomly yelling out phrases like "We were robbed!" or "Cinderella!" or, to use a phrase old-timers once used at Class B ball games, "What a scrapper!"

And now, on the threshold of NCAA basketball tournaments, I am truly sunk. As I listen to co-workers discuss "top seeds" and "bracket busters" and "diaper dandies," I have nothing to add.

And who the heck is John Wall? All of my important go-to sites, including and, seem to know nothing about him.

Oh well.

Go, John Wall! Watch out for those bracketologists and diaper dandies at the Big Dance. I suspect you are a scrapper.